Each generation of portable Nintendo consoles, the Brain Age series acted as a staple for puzzle-lovers everywhere. Now, that tradition is back on the Nintendo Switch with a new spiritual successor, out today. Dr. Kawashima’s Brain Training for Nintendo Switch looks like it’ll bring back many older features that made Brain Age a smash hit. Plus, it’s trying new ways to keep you engaged and competitive (which is good for learning!).
First and possibly most importantly, the game brings back the “brain age” feature (yes, the namesake of the original game). It “guesses your brain age” based on how quickly and well you accomplish the test puzzles. Part of those tests, and Dr. Kawashima’s games’ appeal, of course, is the variety of short and approachable puzzles. It covers everything from math to words, memory to music. The process of “brain age” only takes a few minutes a day – hence the game’s original “Train Your Brain In Minutes A Day” secondary title.
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But as a modern-day Brain Age successor, Brain Training is making good use of the Internet and Switch features to make training more competitive. There are “World Brain Training Championships,” which seem to stack you against players across the world. You can, of course, check your training rankings against your Switch friends. And if you’re really feeling like competing against yourself, you can get an email of your results. Something for everyone, I guess!
Brain Training is also utilizing some of the Switch’s features for some more fun. The launch trailer shows the infrared camera reading a player’s hand for a variety of challenges and puzzles. Plus, two players can use one Joycon each for a number of player-versus-player puzzle games.
The original Brain Age was praised as a simple way to flex your mind without going overboard. The DS game had approachable exercises for all ages, without appearing nor treating its audience as too childish or too “mature.” Plus, its original daily test and practice system was part of that era’s increasingly-popular mind and body fads. With its “minutes a day” shtick, it wasn’t too intimidating to casual or even new puzzlers.
Over time, creator and neuroscientist Dr. Kawashima became an iconic part of the series’s aesthetic as well. He became famous for writing a “brain training” book and was later approached to assist with the series. Dr. Kawashima’s low-poly face is now essentially the “mascot” of the series.
Seeing Kawashima’s face in the game is likely part of the appeal of returning each day to some people. Sometimes, it’s good to have a friendly face to go back to!